Monuments, Yulia Tymoshenko and Epiphany – Ukraine 2011

Privet  (Hi)  from Kyiv for the third time

When nothing is happening in the capital of Ukraine I roam the streets. The Kyiv Arch of Friendship symbolizing friendship between Russia and Ukraine stands near our house. The Arch is also called a rainbow or a Russian collar, depending on which political camp you belong to.

The Kyiv Arch of Friendship

The National Museum of the History of the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945) is a huge complex commemorating WW II. Pictured here are some fragments of the sculptural composition in the memorial complex. The reliefs symbolize the Soviet (Ukrainian) people rising up against the Fascists.

Sculptures at the National Museum of the History of the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945).

I already mentioned that the authorities target opposition leaders and activists for investigation. Nearly a dozen allies of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko were arrested recently and investigations into her and allies continue at high pace. I showed my face at the Prosecutor General’s Office couple times when Tymoshenko went for her interrogation. Journalists and small number of supporters were waiting for her.

Opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko is surrounded by journalists and supporters downtown Kyiv.

These supporters are not paid, there is no one to take down there names, and no one organizes anything there. It is more likely that only the journalists are paid for their work there – as hopefully I will be if I sell some of these images!

A supporter of Yulia Tymoshenko, former Prime Minister, holds Tymoshenko photograph in front of the Prosecutor General’s Office in Kyiv.

When Tymoshenko arrived supporters greet her and journalists interview her. Both groups wait till she leaves the Prosecutor General’s Office. And journalists interview her again and supporters continue to support her.

Tymoshenko is being investigated for alleged abuse of power during her tenure as Prime Minister. Tymoshenko denies all wrongdoing.

One of Ukrainian’s most important religious holidays, the day of the Epiphany, was celebrated on January 19. Early in the day a church service is held, then after the water is blessed the faithful take their bottles home and keep the water all year, which is believed to keep their home safe. After that the brave ones dip in the freezing water to wipe away their sins, to keep out evil spirits and purify the soul.

I didn’t want to stay for this religious holiday in Kyiv itself, so I went to the village of Zhuravka, in the Chernigivsk region, which is two hours drive from Kyiv by mashrutka (mini-bus). I arrived just in time for water to be blessed.

People wait in line outside Zhuravka church during the festival of Epiphany.

People wait outside Zhuravka church to receive holy water. The water is kept at home during the year to keep the home safe from fire, lightening and sickness.

Blessing of Epiphany Water

It is very important to bath also in holy water to wipe away sins, keep out evil spirits and purify the soul. But there is no river or lake in Zhuravka. So I went with Larisa (an inhabitant of Zhuravka) on foot to the village of Polonki, about four kilometers from Zhuravka. Larisa sang religious songs during our walk. And she prayed a lot as well. She told me the story of her life.  I must say her life is not a very happy one. She was sent to Chernobyl right after the explosion to cook for the people who came to clean up after the disaster. She cannot have children, probably due to radioactive exposure. She married to man from Zhuravka, but he drinks…

Icy bath in the village of Polonki

Larisa takes a dip in freezing water on the Epiphany Holiday. It is believed that a dip into freezing water on January 19 will wipe off all sins, keep out devils and purify a soul.

After icy bath, we filled up one bottle with the blessed water and walked back to Zhuravka. I stayed over night at one babushka’s. I was fed and drank well, I was very glad to be there and that I hadn’t stayed in Kyiv; it was raining there and when I returned everything looked very grey and depressed.

“Samohonka” – home distilled alcohol.

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